Feeling blue this January? This is how light & colour can affect your mood

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Did you know that light and colour are both deeply linked to human emotions? According to science, it’s no coincidence that you find yourself happier and more energetic on sunnier days but feeling more lethargic than usual during the winter months – aka the dreaded January Blues.  

In fact, exposure to different colours and light vibrancies has a massive impact on our emotional state and mental wellbeing, and when used creatively, can serve as a gentle therapy treatment for people who suffer from a variety of mental health conditions, like anxiety or depression. 

So to help banish those January Blues and lift moods this winter, we’ve teamed up with light artist Liz West and created The Light House Experience, which will be touring round intu centres, starting from 20 January at intu Lakeside.  

Featuring three house installations; HAPPY, CALM and ENERGIZE, the immersive experience aims to provide a better understanding of how light and colour affects our state of mind in real life. Plus, it’s a fun day out for the whole family to enjoy and escape reality – even if just for a moment. 

But first, let’s start off with the colour basics…

Colours that boost happiness 

Highly pigmented, vibrant colours such as red, orange, yellow, green, blue and magenta can instantly perk up moods and have a positive stimulating effect. It explains why everyone gets excited when they see a rainbow in the sky – it feels like magic! 

In need of a quick dose of happiness? Visit your nearest intu centre and walk through the rainbow-like HAPPY house which features six glowing colours and reflective flooring that pulsates hues of yellow and orange light, for the ultimate happiness boost.

Colours that calm and soothe

It’s scientifically proven that exposure to blue causes the body to create chemicals that calm the system, and can even drop pulse rates and body temperature. Pale pastel colours in cool tones like mint, lilac and grey can also radiate tranquility and comfort, evoking a sense of serenity and peace. 

For anyone who’s craving a little break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life (so, all of us?), visit the CALM house where you can chill in a teepee-like silent roundhouse that pulsates soft blue lights and promotes a feeling of complete relaxation.

Colours that energise

Punchy, supersaturated colours that fall on the warmer side of the spectrum, such as reds, yellows and oranges, have been scientifically proven to energize those who are exposed to them. A blaze of colour can cause the body to speed up in heart rate and pump out adrenaline, making you instantly more awake and alert. It’s also a favourite amongst food establishments as it triggers appetites. 

Feel instantly recharged after a long day of shopping by stepping into the 10-foot ENERGIZE house (seriously, it’s like a wireless charging pad but for humans) at your local intu. Flooded with glorious pink lights, it’s totally Instagram grid-worthy.  

Want to learn more about colour? Here’s a quick low down on how each one can evoke different emotions…


Emotions: Passionate and Energetic

Warm and vibrant, red’s powerfully confident hue can trigger opposing emotions and can be seen as either exciting or aggressive, giving a sense of comfort or urgency. Mainly used to grab the viewer’s attention (like for retail sale signs and traffic signage), this hue is energizing, strong and fun.


Emotions: Energetic and Enthusiastic 

A combination of red and yellow, orange summons feelings of vitality, balance and excitement, without being too overpowering. Orange generally emphasizes playfulness and youthfulness, and is also extremely friendly and inviting.


Emotions: Happy and Optimistic

The brightest and most energetic of the warmer hues, yellow symbolises happiness and is wonderfully cheerful and optimistic. This joyous and radiant colour evokes positive emotions, sparks creativity and boosts confidence.


Emotions: Refreshed and Relaxed

For most people, green is instantly associated with nature and lush greenery like grass, trees and forests. Because it’s linked so closely to nature, it often makes people feel refreshed, tranquil and soothed. It can also symbolise wealth, luck and good health.


Emotions: Calm and Serene

It inspires a feeling of safety and security, but just like the colour red, blue is a versatile colour that can either soothe and calm emotions or represent sadness and sorrow. A shade of light blue can create a pleasantly peaceful environment (think of a clear summer sky), and darker blues can help with sleeping and combat tension.


Emotions: Calm and Uplifted

Blue brings relaxation whilst red brings intensity and energy; combined together the colour purple is a perfect mix of the two. It is also associated with mystery, creativity and royalty; lighter purples are often used to soothe and calm emotions while darker shades can give a sense of luxury and even romance. 


Emotions: Playful and Sensitive

This pretty and delicate shade is heavily associated with romance and femininity. It also represents tenderness and makes the viewer feel pleasant, cute and charming.

Want to immerse yourself in a world of light and colour? Click the button below to find out more about The Light House Experience at intu.